Throughout America, millions of people visit stores and restaurants every day. Sadly, some of these visits result in a patron’s slipping and falling. A fall in a store or restaurant can cause serious injury, and the patron may end up being one of the roughly one million Americans who visit emergency rooms each year due to a fall. In some tragic cases, including elevator or escalator-related falls, a store or restaurant patron may even be killed as a result of a slip and fall.
When you have an injury in a restaurant or store due to a trip and fall or slip and fall, you may have legal rights against the property owner or the commercial entity renting the property. The dedicated and experienced Atlanta slip-and-fall attorneys at The Millar Law Firm can help you to understand and fight for your legal rights. Give us a call today at 404-620-4301 or complete our online form to learn how we can help you.
Dangers of Slip-and-Fall Accidents at Atlanta Stores and Restaurants
Slip-and-fall accidents can happen at any restaurant or store in Atlanta. They are an all-too-common cause of injury. In fact, the Worldwide Cleaning Industry Association indicates that approximately one million patrons of restaurants in the U.S. experience an injury from slipping, tripping and falling each year. Many more individuals, both adults and children, may also slip and fall in department stores, superstores, malls or mom-and-pop shops throughout Georgia.
Slips and falls in stores or restaurants can occur in a variety of situations and for a number of reasons. Reasons for slip-and-fall injuries in stores or restaurants include:
- Overcrowded aisles – This can be a big problem in small stores with narrow aisles or in crowded stores during holiday shopping days such as Black Friday.
- Wet floors – Wet floors may occur in stores not only because of a store employee’s mopping or cleaning the floor, but also because people drag water or ice inside on their shoes, making the floors wet.
- Food or other spills on floors – Food or other slippery items could spill on floors and create a fall hazard. A common example is the classic grocery store slip and fall, due to food being dropped or liquids spilled onto the floor, causing a fall risk.
- Highly polished or slippery floors – Certain types of floors are always more slippery, even when dry. Marble floors, for example, could potentially create a fall hazard, especially for the elderly who might not be as steady on their feet.
- Debris or clutter in walking paths – From merchandise left lying around to garbage in the aisles, any type of debris in walking areas in a store or restaurant can create a risk of someone’s tripping over it.
- Loose floor tiles or broken floorboards – When the foot gets caught on an irregular tile or floorboard or when the foot doesn’t land as expected on the floor due to damage floor tiles or boards, a fall can result.
- Damaged carpeting or rolled up carpeting – Carpet with rips, tears or rolled up edges can catch the foot, creating a slipping or tripping hazard.
- Waxed floors – Like wet floors, waxed floors can be inherently slippery and create a fall risk.
- Unsafe transitions from one floor elevation to another – If there is a step down or up, it should be clearly visible for patrons to see.
- Loose wires or extension cords – Loose wires or cords stretched across aisles or walkways in stores or restaurants can create a tripping hazard.
- Escalators and elevators – The elderly and the young are at the greatest risk of tripping, slipping or falling and being injured on an escalator or elevator. The New York Times reported that 2,660 elderly individuals ages 65 and older were hurt each year on escalator accidents between 1991 and 2005. In 85 percent of these escalator injury cases, slips and falls were the cause of the escalator injury.
- Inadequate lighting – Inadequate lighting can create a risk of falling or worsen one that already exists.
- Inadequate signage – Signs need to warn patrons of wet floors, dangerous flooring transitions or other hazards that could cause a fall.
- Problems with stairs – Broken railings, uneven or unsafe stair treads or slippery stores all create a serious fall risk.
These are all common causes of falls in restaurants and stores. A fall can happen to anyone, young or old, although the National Floor Safety Institute reports that the elderly are both more likely to fall and more likely to suffer serious injuries, including spinal injuries, broken arms, wrists or legs, and hip displacements and fractures.
Holding an Atlanta Store or Restaurant Liable for Your Fall Injuries
If you visit a store or restaurant and you fall while you are on the property, you may be able to sue the property owner. In the event that the restaurant or store owner is renting the space, then the appropriate defendant to sue may be the entity or individual occupying the property.
In order to be successful in filing a lawsuit, you will need to prove several different things under Georgia premises liability law. For example, you will need to prove that the property or store/restaurant owner breached the duty of care that was owed to you as a patron of the store.
Under Georgia’s premises liability law, people who are injured on someone else’s property are divided into three categories depending on why they were visiting the property in the first place. Those doing business at a store or a restaurant are called “invitees.” They are owed the greatest level of care by shop or restaurant owners.
Property or store/restaurant owners who have invitees come onto their premises to do business with them have an obligation to regularly inspect the premises and make sure that any dangers the owner knows about or should know about are corrected. When a hazard on the property cannot be corrected, patrons must be warned about the risk.
To recover compensation against the store or restaurant owner, you’ll need to show that the owner had knowledge (or should have had knowledge) of the hazard on the property. You’ll need to show that they had an opportunity to correct or make the hazard safe. And you’ll need to show that they chose to not address the risk or provide adequate warning. You will also need to show that the property owner or store/restaurant owner’s negligence was the direct cause of your injury.
Finally, you may be called upon to prove that you didn’t knowingly accept the risk of being injured by walking into a store or setting that was clearly dangerous. You may be required to prove this because of Georgia’s open and obvious doctrine. This rule says property or store owners are not held responsible if there is a clear and present danger and the visiting patrons to the store or restaurant choose to ignore it and put themselves at risk of tripping, slipping or falling.
Contact an Atlanta Slip-and-Fall Lawyer Today
Proving all of the different elements of a slip-and-fall case in a restaurant or store can be difficult. Insurance companies know that it is challenging. They may offer you only a low settlement in your slip–and-fall case, or they may not offer to settle at all. To deal with the insurance company and to make sure you have the evidence you need to prove your case, you should consult with an experienced Atlanta slip-and-fall attorney.
At The Millar Law Firm our dedicated and experienced Atlanta slip–and-fall lawyers have been representing injured victims throughout Georgia since 1995. We have a solid network of engineers and expert witnesses who can testify for you. We know how to help you gather the evidence you need to prove your case. We can negotiate on your behalf with the insurance company to get a fair settlement, or we can take your case to court and use our legal knowledge and expertise to prove your case to the jury.
Slip and Fall Law for Georgia Stores and Restaurants Explained
Georgia law contains rules and duties for business and premises owners. These Rules require managers and owners to use ordinary care to keep a place of business safe for invited customers. O.C.G.A. § 51-3-1. This includes a duty to reasonably inspect the area. This means keeping the approaches and the buildings safe by finding and discovering any dangerous conditions. Then taking reasonable precautions to protect customers (invitees) from foreseeable dangers from the arrangement and use of the area.
Can I Recover If I Slip And Fall Inside Of A Store?
Any store open to the public must carry out this duty. If you slip and fall or are otherwise injured inside of store, you may have a viable legal claim to recover from the business. Whether a slip and fall is in Walmart, Target, Kroger or a small business, the duty is the same.
A slip and fall inside of a store can occur for a number of reasons. This can be from a leaky roof or pipe, or a trip and fall over a mat. Trip and falls may also occur from a prior customer spilling substances on the floor. It can even be from misplaced items blocking the pathway of a customer.
Can I Hold the Store Liable?
Regardless of the cause of the slip and fall, the liability of the business depends on several things. Should the store reasonably have found the unsafe condition? And did it fail to reasonably to fix the hazard? For example, did a customer spill something in an aisle? If so, the injured person must have evidence the store knew or should have known the danger existed. You must prove it was on the floor long enough for the store to have a chance to clean up.
The injured party will likely also have to prove that the condition was not open and obvious. Thus, was avoidable by the customer. For example, a customer usually cannot recover for injuries from tripping over a clearly visible item. A customer must also exercise reasonable caution to protect him or herself in certain situations.
Do you have a slip and fall case inside of a business? Contact The Millar Law Firm for a free consultation. You can benefit from our experience. Our Georgia injury attorneys specialize in slip and trip and fall claims. We have helped many of your Georgia neighbors recover money for medical bills and pain and suffering from in-store accidents.
When you call us, you will receive help from one of the most experienced firms in Georgia.